Our Industry

History of the Language Services Industry

The term “freelance” was originally coined as two words by Sir Walter Scott in his novel “Ivanhoe,” to describe a mercenary soldier of the Middle Ages. Highly popular in the early 1900’s, freelancing was the preferred hiring method as artisans and day laborers provided work for employers and were paid each day for their services.

With the coming of the Industrial Revolution and the advent of the assembly line, however, it became increasingly necessary to hire workers in greater numbers in order to perform various tasks. So the use of independent labor was no longer valued in the marketplace or as needed.

It’s a whole new world.

With the advent of the Internet and the rise in digital technology, it is no longer business as usual. The world has become a global marketplace, creating a greater demand for language translation and interpretation services at home and abroad. Communication is no longer restricted by time zones or national borders, which creates unique conditions under which language service agencies can best serve their clients.

The vast majority of language service providers rely exclusively upon freelance language specialists. This is true for several reasons:

  • No Time Clock. Freelancers can work at their own schedule, and better meet timelines and deadlines in foreign markets.
  • Unpredictable Workload. Given the unpredictable nature of the workload, it is simply not feasible for most language service agencies to provide a full-time staff.
  • A Multitude of Languages. Most language service agencies provide services in multiple target languages, it is not feasible for them to maintain a full-time staff of employees.
  • There is no place like home. Linguists living in the target language country can easily contact a local specialist or terminologist for help with a project. In these instances, reference materials simply cannot replace a “live” consultation. Living in a target language environment is a prerequisite for a translator when smooth style and up-to-date vocabulary are of the highest priority.

The Language Services Industry is very choosy:

Most Language Service Agencies have advanced recruiting criteria when screening and selecting freelance language specialists. These criteria ensure that the freelancer has the skills and knowledge necessary to translate both industry-specific and culture-specific language and terminology, and produce the most appropriate and accurate translations and interpretations possible. These criteria may include.

  • Extensive experience and training in a particular professional field
  • Current residency in the target country
  • A required level of translation or interpreting experience
  • A higher education degree
  • Accreditations and certifications in state and private translation associations such as the American Translators Association